God in the Garden

 Pumpkin patch

Picture: Dan Hansen helps put in irrigation at the Pumpkin Patch Community Garden.

Here's a promo for the NPR "God in the Garden" radio program that I was interviewed for a couple weeks ago. It will play on Boise NPR tomorrow 91.5 and then probably trickle out to other northwest NPR affiliates. If you're interested I suppose you can email your local NPR affiliate and request that they broadcast it.


I am discovering in my work with the Pumpkin Patch Community Garden that "Community" is the word of emphasis. It feels less like an experiment in cultivating plants than it does an experiment in forming a community of friends and neighbors. We show up as strangers and after a couple hours of putting together irrigation equipment we leave as friends.

The Pumpkin Patch isn't a "church garden" or a "faith-based garden" like some of those described in the radio program. It's a community garden with a church as partner, working alongside others toward a renewed future for our neighborhood.

That being said I do see these things through my lens of faith. Here's a quote from Wendell Berry's essay, "Health is Membership," that echoes some of my thoughts about the "community" in "community gardens."

I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.

I believe that health is wholeness. For many years I have returned again and again to the work of the English agriculturist Sr Albert Howard who said, in The Soil and Health, that 'the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal and man [is] one great subject.'

...I believe that the community - in the fullest sense; a place and all its creatures - is the smallest unit of health and that to speak of the health of an isolated individual is a contradiction in terms.

Community gardens are about seeds and soil and harvest, but they are also about wholeness and health and yes, even love. They take us isolated individuals and place us in a more proper context of cooperation and sharing. I look forward to seeing how things develop through the summer. (I'm learning that these gardens also reflect some of the unhealth of our community. We're not even up and running yet but the vandals and hooligans have already made their presence known.)

I'll post a link to the whole show once it's posted and post some updates on the progress of the garden throughout the summer.